With exams looming this term, students may be feeling as if they have been living with their exam pieces for aeons. I remember this feeling well, the same pieces of music facing me at my lessons, week after week…..
Nothing beats being well prepared for an exam: knowing your repertoire inside out, being entirely secure with technical work, and well practised in sight-reading, aural, musical knowledge and other components of the exam (depending on which exam board you are using) are sure-fire ways of avoiding too many exam nerves on The Day, and can guarantee a trouble-free, and, hopefully, Distinction- or Merit- worthy performance.
Some of my students have been living with their exam pieces for a year. When I did my Diploma last winter, I had been living with some of my pieces for nearly two years, yet I went into the recital room for the exam full of excitement about my pieces and keen to present them to the examiner
But what if, as the exam date looms, you feel bored with your repertoire, heartily sick of it, and desperate to learn something new? How do you keep the repertoire alive and ‘fresh’ for exam day? Here are some tips:
- Try to remember what you liked about the pieces when you first heard them. What made you select these particular pieces for your exam?
- What excites and interests you about these pieces?
- What “stories” or pictures do the pieces suggest to you?
- How will you present these pieces to the examiner? What aspects would you like to highlight in your performance?
When the exam appointments are confirmed I will be doing this exercise with my students, getting them to write down a few lines in answer to each of my points. This will help them focus on their repertoire and will ensure they think about what they playing, instead of just “typing” the notes, and will hopefully result in well-thought out performances on the big day.
Good luck to all students who are preparing for exams this term!
An earlier article from my other blog on my diploma repertoire
An article by pianist Graham Fitch on how to keep repertoire alive